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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

A call for Zoning Resolution amendments addressing the rise of supertall buildings and a moratorium on supertalls until the City properly addresses their negative impacts

WHEREAS, A boom in luxury development has heralded the rapid rise of supertall buildings that have changed the city’s skyline; and

WHEREAS, These buildings, at least 600 feet in height and often significantly taller than that, raise a number of important concerns;

WHEREAS, They are typically out of context with the surrounding neighborhood, irreversibly altering the scale and streetscape of the area; and

WHEREAS, In 2014, Community Board Five, created the Central Park Sunshine Task Force to assess the negative impacts of these supertall buildings; and

WHEREAS, The Central Park Sunshine Task Force produced a report identifying a significant number of issues and concerns brought about by these supertall structures, including:

1 - Their shadow impact to public open space, including parks and playgrounds

2 - Their impact on historic resources and our aging infrastructure

3 - Their impact on fire and construction safety; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five passed a resolution in May 2015 recommending the introduction of amendments to the Zoning Resolution addressing these concerns, as well as new CEQR evaluations and mitigations; and

WHEREAS, In 2019 our calls for the Department of City Planning to make these amendments to the zoning text on an expedited basis still go unheeded; and

WHEREAS, In 2015, we recommended that a moratorium be adopted on any new supertalls until the zoning text and CEQR manual address these negative impacts; and

WHEREAS, The City Council has in the past imposed moratoria where substantial interests of New Yorkers are in conflict with the perceived interests of landowners, even where the landowners are proposing projects not otherwise prohibited by the Zoning Resolution; and

WHEREAS, Such moratoria have been enacted to prevent the creation of adult establishments, the conversion of SRO hotels, and the conversion of transient hotels; and

WHEREAS, Absent prompt action by City Planning or a moratorium, New York City may witness the construction over the next few years of dozens of buildings with heights and massing which are incompatible with existing nearby buildings, which will inflict unacceptable shadow conditions on nearby parks, open spaces and playgrounds, and have many other environmental impacts; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five joins Community Board Seven in recommending that a moratorium be adopted by the New York City Council on the issuance of building permits for projects involving any of the following:

1- unoccupied structural spaces, whether enclosed or unenclosed, including mechanical spaces exceeding, in total, 30 feet in height ("voids");

2 - ceiling heights in excess of average height (ie. 10 to 12 feet)

3 - zoning lot mergers resulting in projects with building heights more than 10% higher than would be permissible absent the merger, or 10% denser in areas that don’t have a height restriction; and be it further

RESOLVED, The moratorium should last 24 months, subject to renewal, and subject to an application to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a special permit or variance.

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